There are many reasons people fear childbirth; pain, dying, losing their baby, obstetric violence, having a c-section. But I want to talk about the first reason: pain. First off, I want to say that childbirth is painful- because you are stretching yourself, physically and emotionally. You are taking part in a GRAND TRANSFORMATION- and transformations come with growing pains. Plus, you are literally pushing a baby out of your womb!
Ever hear about the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle? Well, it’s this thing that happens during labor where you are holding fear- and fear creates tension in your body- and tension leads to feeling more pain- and because you are feeling pain, you become fearful. Make sense?
Let’s break it down. Think about when you are feeling fearful about something. What happens in your body physically? You tense up, you might experience sweating, your heart might be racing, you have adrenaline running throughout your system. This is fight or flight.. Your nervous system is on high alert (think about a gazelle running from a cheetah). Because of this tension and adrenaline, you feel more sensation (pain), and then the cycle repeats itself.
So to decrease pain in labor, we must decrease fear surrounding childbirth. How do we do that?
- Get a good support team. Hire a doula, make sure your care provider is on board with your birth wishes (and make sure it’s someone you trust and feel comfortable with), ask questions about the hospital or birth center’s policies and procedures, ask about their c-section and induction rates.
- Learn about physiological birth (or the birth you are wanting- medicated, induction, belly).
- Educate yourself on your options and what’s available to you. M(O)therboard Birth is a great platform for learning about ALL of your options- going over the pros and cons to each thing, and is an amazing resource in general for expecting parents and birth-workers alike.
- Relax. Relax. Relax. Our aim is to calm the nervous system, shut off fight or flight, and turn on rest and digest- the parasympathetic system. Comfort measures, pain management techniques, meditation, focusing on breath, and having a doula with you are all things that you can do to relax.
- Oxytocin Boost: increasing the love hormone. Oxytocin produces good feelings in your brain and body! Stay close to your partner, love on them, laugh, cry, orgasm.
- Surround yourself with positive birth stories and positivity in general during your pregnancy. There is always a temptation for people who have experienced a traumatic birth to tell you about this- warn you, offer advice, to vent and be heard. But PLEASE, make a boundary with these people. They will understand, I promise.
All of these things will set you up for success as far as reducing fear, tension, and pain during your labor. Remember, birth can be unpredictable, but staying relaxed and increasing oxytocin are two key components of childbirth.
a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.